Now that we have reached the 13th year of celebration, we are certain to sustain the activity in the coming years. For number 13 has been considered both unlucky and lucky number. Countries around the world associated the number 13 with either luck or disaster. Let the debates go on. Regardless of the result, the fact remains that we have survived the 13th year which, for me, assures us of a bright future.
In the past 12 years we experienced both worlds – the peak and the lowest condition of the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON)’s work and problems in mobilization. To quote the wedding vow, we experienced “times of plenty and times of want, sickness and health, joy and sorrow, failure and triumph.”
We experienced having two full time staff, as well as none. There was a time when both by necessity and in an attempt to restore the tradition of a functional board, we decided to do away with any staff. While the idea was bright, we realized upon implementation that the situation had changed. The core group is now tied up to respective work unlike before when they had the time within their disposal.
ICON is a story of struggles – from the lobbying stage for the institutionalization of the Non-government organization s and People’s organizations (NGO PO) Week to the subsequent pioneering days in organizing the network. The struggle in lobbying with fellow development workers and NGO partners to support the resolution for the declaration of NGO PO Week. The task to convince veteran organizers of various persuasions to form the coalition had been taxing and wearisome.
We also struggled to sustain both the coalition and politics in the government. We even had the foretaste of tug-of-war of politicians at Capitol in view of the May 2010 which affected the release of our budget. Our network was even affected by the transition of my work in CPU caused by changes in administration where from administrative position that enhanced networking, I went back to faculty status without even a permanent place to stay.
A review of the history will help us understand the state of our coalition, learn lessons from the past to guide us in another decade of development. Circumstances, indeed, had determined the nature of the organization. ICON is a by product of the NGO PO Week, Although the name was already christened for the umbrella organization of the NGOs and POs accredited by the province when required to form by the accrediting body, at that time.
Historically, the initiative came from the Iloilo Council of Social Development (ICSD), another loose network of welfare NGOs which can be categorized in the political spectrum as moderate. At that time, there was a realization that some NGOs were left behind. The organizations managed by veteran organizers always dominated the decision making and elections in meetings. So we decided to solidify our forces to capture the leadership in the Provincial Development Council.
It worked out which resulted to our annual celebration for the benefit of broader numbers of NGOs and POs. Since then, circumstances also worked in favor of ICON both in the Provincial Development Council, City Development Council and other government agencies. We have reached the peak in mobilization reaching to thousands which impressed both the government and private sectors. The provincial government has provided us office with increasing budget for the celebration. Even business groups and the academic community joined us.
Looking back, I realized that what sustains us for years is POLITICS. It has been defined in various ways to capture the complexities of relations of people in the society involving authority or power. Some even thought of politics as sort of “intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power.” While we might have experienced these elements in our 12 years of struggle, I want to qualify what I mean by politics that sustains our network. It is an acrostic/acronym which capsulizes the sustaining elements in our organization, as follows: Participation, Optimism, Lobbying, Integrity, Tact, Interdependence, Coordination, Spirituality
(to be continued)
Message delivered by Rev. Edwin I. Lariza, ICON president, during the General Assembly of the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs to culminate the 13th NGO PO Week on December 6, 2012.